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Ham named 2016 Senior Citizenship recipient

Press Release for May 12, 2016

HamCadet Jeremiah Ham was recognized as the Senior Citizenship award winner during Hargrave's Class of 2016 Baccalaureate on Thursday, May 12, 2016. As the Senior Citizenship award winner, Cadet Ham addressed the Hargrave Corps of Cadets, faculty, staff and attending family members. His address follows:

Becoming a Mentor

When I look at Hargrave I see a family that I have grown with, and friends that I will have for years to come. As we continue our journeys in life we now look to the juniors to take over the foundation and principles we stood upon, and make them great. As we leave our mark, there is no doubt that we have the potential to go beyond what is expected.

Looking back I had an opportunity that most never got to experience, living in some of the greatest countries in the world, deep in the heart of Africa. Like many I was never interested in visiting or living in Africa. But by the age of 7, my dad's career prompted my family and I to move to Cameroon. Growing up in Francophone West Africa and English speaking Southern Africa, I experienced a whole new world much different from the one I imagined. I found the beauty of different cultures and languages. I feasted on ethnic food, celebrated religious holidays with friends of faiths different from mine. I enjoyed playing "futball" matches with children in surrounding villages as much as I did spending time with classmates at my international schools.

I learned a person's social and economic class has nothing to do with an individual's intelligence. One of the smartest people I met was the security guard who protected our compound and took care of the many children who grew there. I spent many hours talking to him. He taught me the keys to gardening, rules of soccer, and how to eat properly using my hands. Mr. Moses showed me the secret to a happy life - passion. After spending time in Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Zambia, South Africa and Tanzania it became apparent that the "Preservation of one's own culture does not require contempt or disrespect for other cultures," but rather the ability to embrace it, as stated by Cesar Chavez. Nevertheless I became humbled by the amount of poverty and the sickening feeling of war as it robbed us of our loved ones. Hoping to find a stable and steady educational environment my next steps would lead me to Hargrave. Reluctant to attend such an institution because of word Military I found myself contemplating why I was here and what my purpose was? Despite my dreams of wanting to return home to the beautiful continent of Africa, I made a conscious decision to make the most of my situation, allowing this new environment to take its toll on my life. Continuing in a humble state of mind I felt compelled to take advantage of all the opportunities that stood before me, as there are many around the world especially in Africa in which attending such an institution is merely a dream.

Looking at all of you, I see hope. Without you, this school wouldn’t be the thriving institution that it is. Looking back at my past years, I developed a family of brothers, who pushed me to become apart of something bigger than myself. Although I had intentions of one day winning honor company, due to minor circumstances we were unable to achieve that goal. But despite my individual glories my primary objective was to be an impact on someone else's life. From having my name called by my peers whenever I got an award, to playing my heart out for those next to me on the soccer field, running hard in Track, and even praying with a younger cadet hoping that all his troubles went away. I took pride in being able to help and mentor those who I knew had the potential to go far beyond what they perceived of themselves. But just as much as I wished to teach I also had to learn. Never in my life did I expect to have to argue with kids on why they had to do duties or why they had mess hall for the third time this week. Despite my struggle to be accepted as a leader and as friend, I knew that my role as a mentor to those around me would soon fall into place.

As my days come to an end I would like to thank all the administration and staff for their guidance. After beginning the process to apply to the college of my choice I quickly became tired of typing in my parents credit card number to send my SAT scores and developing ideas for the countless essays I did not feel like writing. I hadn’t even begun, and the college process itself had already drained out all my motivation. But then I thought the great Shakespearean words to stay in high school or not to stay in high school and I quickly made the choice to move on and go and capture my dreams. Furthermore I can now look back and say I finally made it, as I will be attending Drexel University as public health major with a three year ROTC scholarship, but more importantly a Hargrave graduate. Here, I learned that every day is just an opportunity to inspire someone. As we seek to help those around us it is important to understand that leadership is the fusion of heart and mind, for the betterment of others to effectively accomplish and make a difference in someone’s life. Leadership is a choice but citizenship enables us to go far.

Lastly before I go I would like to leave you with a quote;

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear." -- Nelson Mandela

So thank you all again for all that you have done for me, and for my seniors I wish you best of luck as you discover where your path to success takes you. As we say in French, 'Bonne nuit et bonne chance à tous.'